'Tiger' Tackles The Rise, Fall And Resurgence Of A Controversial Golf Icon

Written by on January 10, 2021

On Thanksgiving evening 2009, the legend of Tiger Woods imploded. He wasn’t simply the Nike-sponsored professional golfer who broke racial obstacles and main information within the sport; he was additionally now a tabloid fixture. 

That night, Woods smashed his black Cadillac Escalade into a hearth hydrant exterior his Wyndemere, Florida, mansion following a reported dispute along with his then-wife, Elin Nordegren. The day gone by, the Nationwide Enquirer had launched a narrative about Woods’ alleged mistress, nightclub hostess Rachel Uchitel, and his squeaky-clean status finally got here into query. 

From there, story after story leaked to the press about Woods’ a number of affairs. He spent months in hiding earlier than reportedly checking right into a intercourse habit clinic and delivering a fastidiously constructed apology to the general public. Nordegren and Woods, who’ve two kids collectively, divorced shortly thereafter. 

All of those occasions and extra are documented in HBO Sports activities and Jigsaw Productions’ new two-part collection “Tiger,” which airs on HBO and HBO Max on Jan. 10 and 17. The collection tracks the athlete’s rise, historic downfall and triumphant return on the 2019 Masters Match. Utilizing Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian’s best-selling guide “Tiger Woods” as a information, administrators Matthew Heineman (Oscar nominee for “Cartel Land”) and Matthew Hamachek (Emmy nominee for “Amanda Knox”) element all the things from Woods’ intense relationship along with his father Earl to his accidents, prescription drug use and subsequent 2017 DUI arrest.

Though Woods will not be concerned within the mission, the docuseries options unique interviews along with his shut acquaintances, together with Woods’ former caddie and good friend Steve Williams, six-time main golf champion Sir Nick Faldo, biographer Pete McDaniel, and Uchitel, who breaks her silence on their life-altering relationship.

It’s an intimate portrait of a person who was bred for greatness, solely to have the excessive expectations positioned upon him result in his collapse.

As two white males, Heineman and Hamachek confronted some criticism for documenting Woods’ legacy. (Woods is multiracial and controversially deemed himself “Cablinasian” in 1997 on “The Oprah Winfrey Present” in reference to his Caucasian, Black, Indian and Asian heritage.) When information of “Tiger” hit final July, Indian documentary director and editor Geeta Gandbhir questioned why just one government of colour, producer Sam Pollard, was included within the mission.

I need to make you conscious of the asks from the Black and brown group – as you might have an enormous platform, and the entire group must grapple with the difficulty of systemic racism in our group. Why was there not a director reflective of the group on this mission? If there have been two of you, couldn’t ONE of you might have been Black or Asian? Accountability and management are wanted at the moment – you might be in an awesome place to be a constructive instance.

Following that remark, members of the “Tiger” crew ― together with Pollard, Heineman and government producer Alex Gibney ― acknowledged the dearth of range on the movie and promised to make needed hiring modifications with future tasks.

Heineman advised HuffPost, “There’s loads of work that must be executed throughout our business, on each side, from funding to festivals to people like ourselves placing collectively groups to assist create larger fairness inside each our documentary group and leisure business, normally.” 

On this interview with HuffPost, Heineman and Hamachek focus on the dialog surrounding “Tiger,” why they wished to deal with the golf icon’s story and what they discovered whereas delving into his life and profession. 

When did you are taking curiosity in or determine to tackle a documentary about Tiger Woods? 

Hamachek: In 2018, Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian revealed their guide “Tiger Woods,” which was, in some ways, the inspiration for our doc. Shortly after it was introduced that Jigsaw Productions had licensed it, I reached out and mentioned, “I’ve been desirous to deep-dive into this story for a few years.”

Then we began to search for one other director, and Matt and I’ve labored collectively many instances on movies previously and he’s clearly some of the gifted documentary filmmakers on the market, so I used to be actually excited to have him come on. That led to form of two or three months of analysis and deep-diving into all the things that had ever form of been written about him. After which after that, we mentioned, “How are we going to have the ability to inform this?”

We reached out to Tiger and his camp, however they tell us that he had a beforehand current relationship with one other media firm that prohibited him from taking part in anything. And so after that, it was, “Who had been the individuals in Tiger’s life that knew him finest?” As a result of loads of what’s been written about Tiger through the years is that this at form of arm’s size recording of people that walked the golf programs with him and wrote about his {golfing} prowess.

Matt and I actually wished to unravel “Who’s Tiger Woods and the way did he get to this place?” We wished to speak to the individuals which were in the lounge with Tiger and knew him finest in any respect these pivotal moments in his profession. So we got down to discover these individuals.

It needed to be tough to get them to talk with you, even when a few of them, like his former caddie Steve Williams, not have relationships with him. How did you go about constructing that belief? 

Matthew Heineman: I feel everybody was and is kind of fiercely protecting of Tiger, even when they’ve been lower from his life. One of many greater sides of gaining individuals’s belief was to make it possible for we had been going to be truthful and sincere in telling the story. Once more, even individuals which were screwed over by Tiger wished to make it possible for this wasn’t just a few head job on him. And so, amongst many different components, that was, throughout the board, one thing that we needed to do to achieve the belief of our topics ― to elucidate what our intentions had been. 

Hamachek: In loads of methods, all of those [interview subjects] are so protecting of Tiger to this present day as a result of they’ve seen individuals use Tiger to create this form of character that they wished him to be. And so, one of many issues that we actually confronted in making this was to make it possible for we discover the those who knew him finest and discuss to them and hear and perceive who these individuals noticed him as. 

Did you guys know, proper off the bat, what you had been attempting to perform? Or was it extra of the footage and the interviews you had been getting that made the story arc clear to you? 

Heineman: That is the primary speaking head movie that I’ve ever executed, and I feel the method of discovery is probably the most thrilling half about making a movie. We don’t go into a movie with a form of script or a preconceived notion of what we wish. We actually let our topics dictate the place the story is gonna go. There was no form of grasp plan or agenda that we had been attempting to meet or essay that we had been attempting to jot down. We didn’t understand how lengthy the movie can be, we didn’t know what number of elements it will be. We simply wished to let the story dictate what the shape ought to be. 

I don’t know why Tiger must redeem himself to the general public in any respect, and I actually don’t understand how successful a golf match would have something to do with redemption within the first place. Matthew Hamachek

Matt Hamachek, you’re an editor, so what made you need to swap gears and co-direct “Tiger”?

Hamachek: The factor that at all times fascinated me about Tiger is, in 2009 on Thanksgiving evening, all of us discovered that, regardless of being some of the well-known individuals on the earth, we knew virtually subsequent to nothing about him. And if you begin to discuss to all these individuals who knew him finest, one of many issues that they at all times level to is how, all through his whole life, [he faced various pressures]. Whether or not it was his father, Earl, who, initially of our movie at this banquet in 1996, talks about how Tiger goes to unite the totally different races and tribes of humanity. Then Nike took that message and imaginative and prescient and form of ran with it in the way in which that they offered Tiger to the world. After which after that, the remainder of the media and the general public at giant projected all these expectations and identities onto Tiger. It was fascinating to find out about that. 

And again to your unique query, I used to be actually lucky to have anyone like Matt that I’ve labored with earlier than, but additionally Sam Pollard, one in every of our government producers, is a former editor who took the leap to develop into a director. To have Sam on board as anyone I might discuss to and depend on to assist me make this transition was actually nice. 

You point out Sam Pollard, who was the one Black government on the mission. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t carry up the talk that sparked when this mission was introduced concerning the lack of range within the manufacturing workforce. What have you ever mirrored on whereas addressing the significance of together with totally different voices and views in storytelling, particularly when it entails an individual of colour? 

Hamachek: Look, we take quite a lot of care in how we inform these tales, however Matt and I each really feel as if we might have executed a lot extra to diversify the workforce than we did. And it’s one thing we’re actually going to be specializing in as we transfer ahead. However once more, I really feel actually lucky that we had Sam on as a result of he actually helped me make the transition [from editor to director] but additionally gave us a much-needed perspective.

Matt Heineman, I do know you launched an announcement on this, however the previous few years have undoubtedly introduced up the concept of filmmakers working inside their “bubbles” and selecting to collaborate with individuals they’ve labored with earlier than. Did this dialog make you think about opening up your circle to get totally different views in your tales? 

Heineman: For certain. I’m completely happy that that dialog occurred round our movie this summer time. There’s loads of work that must be executed throughout our business, on each side, from funding to festivals to people like ourselves placing collectively groups to assist create larger fairness inside each our documentary group and leisure business, normally. I actually hope that [the conversation around “Tiger”] can result in, and I feel it has in some methods led to, some actually necessary conversations past our movie.

Race is a through-line of the documentary. How did you each go about placing a chord in the precise method in the case of the topic and Tiger’s personal method to his ethnicity?

Hamachek: The method of creating a documentary is de facto listening to your topics and discovering the precise individuals who, on this case, knew Tiger properly. And if you happen to discuss to Pete McDaniel, who was an Earl Woods biographer and a extremely shut good friend of the household, there’s no query that, from his perspective, race performed a extremely essential function in Tiger’s life. I feel what Pete says is loads of this goes again to the way in which the general public interacts with Tiger. [Addressing] race was one of many many expectations that individuals placed on him. 

Tiger Woods with his parents Kultida and Earl Woods at the Johnnie Walker Classic at Blue Canyon Golf Club, Thailand, on&nbsp

Tiger Woods along with his mother and father Kultida and Earl Woods on the Johnnie Walker Traditional at Blue Canyon Golf Membership, Thailand, on Jan. 25, 1998.

I grew up watching Tiger play, however I didn’t know a lot about his father’s affect on him and the stress to play golf from a younger age. I imply, he was 2 years outdated when he appeared on “The Mike Douglas Present.” It’s eye-opening to see the sort of pressures he was put below from the beginning, after which what being thrown into the very white world of golf had so as to add to it.

Heineman: I knew virtually nothing about Tiger going into making this present. I knew, clearly, Earl was an enormous, formative a part of his life, however certainly not did I do know the extent to which that was the case. That oversized function that Earl performed in his life and in shaping Tiger, clearly alongside along with his mom, Tida, was actually fascinating to unpack with all our related topics that we filmed with. 

Yeah, you might have one in every of his academics, his first girlfriend, members of the media ― you sort of hit on each a part of his life. I’m certain that was a plan getting into, to get a way of Tiger at each stage? 

Heineman: Yeah. On the flip facet of that, I don’t assume we felt an obligation to have this be the encyclopedia entry with each form of interval and comma. This isn’t a cradle to grave, or not a cradle to the golf cart, story. That is an try to actually perceive this man. And so we had been very focused in our method to doing so. 

Then, in fact, you deal with the general public’s obsession with superstar, the place we cheer them on, we construct them up after which we sort of sit round and look ahead to them to fall. Was that attention-grabbing to look at? These “idols” are people like all people else they usually’re going to make errors.

Hamachek: In loads of methods, the primary a part of our movie is about all of those identities being thrust onto Tiger and the second half is about Tiger looking for a life that was his. The attention-grabbing factor is, in 2009, when he basically revealed himself to be a human being and never what they’d created him to be of their thoughts, all these those who constructed him up pounced on him and appeared to take this nice form of glee in his downfall. Then when he began to make his comeback in 2018, all the identical those who had been piling on in the course of the downfall began to cheer him on and discuss how this was a narrative of redemption, which at all times confused me. I don’t know why Tiger must redeem himself to the general public in any respect, and I actually don’t understand how successful a golf match would have something to do with redemption within the first place.

What the individuals who knew him finest level to within the interval of 2018 onward ― and what we tried to place within the movie ― was Tiger form of discovered the enjoyment in enjoying the sport once more and began interacting with the individuals he performed with and interacting with followers. However there’s this attention-grabbing cycle of the media and the general public the place all people’s form of constructing him up and tearing him down after which leaping proper again on the bandwagon of constructing him up once more. I feel that’s an enchanting a part of the story. 

You cowl Tiger’s intercourse scandal that led to the collapse of his profession. How did you go about approaching it in a contemporary method, because it was closely documented within the media on the time? 

Heineman: There’s certainly been sufficient of the scandal and certainly not did we really feel we wished to dive into it. We had little interest in making any form of a salacious exposé of the lurid particulars of his intercourse scandal. We wished to attempt to perceive, at the very least, what led him to that time? What was he searching for? What was he hoping for?

Clearly, one of many greater interviews we received was Rachel Uchitel, and that interview might have gone in a bunch of various methods. However, for us, it was actually an examination of “What was Tiger like at the moment? Who was he? What was he like within that bed room, not sexually, however what was happening in his thoughts? What was he hoping to attach with?” And as she says within the doc, he known as [their meetups] “plugging in.” It was a method for him to speak in a method that he wasn’t in a position to discuss in different elements of his life. They texted on a regular basis; they’d a reasonably deep relationship and that was actually one of many extra attention-grabbing issues to me. For lots of those girls, it wasn’t simply intercourse. They considered it as a form of deep emotional connection to this man. And it wasn’t only one individual, there’s a number of individuals. So his skill to form of compartmentalize and lead a number of lives, as Armen Keteyian says within the doc, was fairly astounding throughout this era. 

What are you hoping individuals take away from the movie? I discovered it to be a sympathetic portrait of a person who was really constructed to be one factor: the perfect golfer on the earth, main him to lack fundamental coping expertise. 

Hamachek: I feel Tiger’s typically been painted in actually broad brushstrokes. Lots of people have tried to remove quite simple solutions for him. I hope that what we’ve been in a position to do in making that is present the complexity of who he’s in the way in which that the those who knew him finest noticed him ― as a extremely difficult one who has had loads of expectations and issues projected onto him. 

Heineman: In a single sentence, we hope that this present isn’t just for Tiger Woods followers. We hope it appeals to the common one who is enthusiastic about docs, who’s enthusiastic about human nature, who’s enthusiastic about what’s the value of greatness? You don’t must care about golf or know something about golf to have an interest on this story. Hopefully. 

“Tiger” airs Jan. 10 and Jan. 17 on HBO and HBO Max. This interview has been edited and condensed for readability. 


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